Jesus, Lord of Life and Glory, SATB/Piano: MP3
A new setting of the 1839 text, “Jesus, Lord of Life and Glory” was born a little over 24 hours ago. This beautiful hymn by James John Cummins had fallen into disuse until fairly recently, when Greg Thompson’s “By Thy Mercy” appeared on the Indelible Grace CD By Thy Mercy and High Street Hymn’s self-titled CD.
I wrote my own setting in 2012 and decided to bring it back again this Lent in an arrangement for SATB choir and piano. I’ve got to admit that I was pleased with how it turned out. The tune sings well, as you can hear by the way the congregation owns it when they join the choir in verse 4; the choral texture adds richness; and the piano provides a certain gravitas to the song’s theme.
We sang it Sunday morning in worship and then again that afternoon at the home of one of church friends who is terminally ill. It gave poignancy to the line “when we feel our mortal weakness, when all human help is vain.” Something else I observed during that visit is that Margaret requested a lot of upbeat hymns–not insubstantial, but also not morose. It made me wonder if that’s one of the roles music plays in faith: it reminds those who are likely far from death that there will one day be, in the words of verse 6, a “solemn hour of dying”; and it gives those close to death a hope of joy as fresh as the songs of their youth.